Another year, another shortage of school bus drivers has begun the year off poorly for students and their families. Enough adults aren’t available to drive the youngsters home from school every day.

My 12-year-old son’s school bus would be 30 to 40 minutes late on the first day of school because of unexpected resignations and illnesses among the bus drivers. The school district intentionally delayed one or two buses from a selection of schools. They included the bus my son took to school.

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The New Jersey mother of two frantically called her neighbors and eventually convinced her friend who lived down the street to pick him up and take her kid with them. What happened the previous day continued the following day. It’s the bus’s job to be late once again. This is unfair to the pupils taking that path and will cause them extra anxiety during the first week of school.

Because of the present solutions to the shortage, children whose families rely on the school bus are missing out on valuable learning time. Students whose families depend on the school bus are now being picked up on a double route. These kids are chronically late, causing them to miss out on the most productive part of the school day. Over an hour of lost time from after-school activities can result from having to wait at school to be taken home.

What’s Causing the Shortage of School Bus Drivers?

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Finding qualified individuals to work as school bus drivers is challenging. The compensation isn’t always great, and the hours aren’t necessarily set in stone. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the profession even less desirable because of the risks involved. Due to DMV closures, many drivers who were furloughed during the 2020 shutdown either retired or failed to maintain their licenses. As a result, many school bus drivers have switched to commercial bus firms.

This year, we felt the effects of unexpected driver departures from companies that provided contracted bus services. Our research showed that truck drivers were not necessarily abandoning the industry. They hoped to find jobs with complete benefits, like the ones our in-house bus drivers had.

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A recent poll of school superintendents found that districts across the country were experiencing staff shortages as a result of the pandemic. The scarcity of bus drivers is one of the most acute in education, along with the shortages of paraprofessionals, special education instructors, and substitutes. Fifty-seven percent of schools and sixty percent of urban schools reported having trouble finding school bus drivers.

Are Students Affected in Any Way by the Lack of School Bus Drivers?

In a number of ways, the shortage is having an impact on today’s students. Students arrive late to class because their buses either have to pick up too many students at once or make many trips back and forth. This is a problem because persistent tardiness predicts poorer academic outcomes.

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Students may experience feelings of shame or anxiety if they are chronically tardy to class. Because there aren’t enough people to operate school buses, they often arrive late in the morning. It’s not just that kids spend the last few minutes of the school day waiting for the bus, which causes them to be late for their after-school activities and appointments.

When there aren’t enough adults willing to drive students to and from sporting activities, several school systems cancel them. There was supposed to be a bus service in Eliza’s district that would transport middle school athletes to and from high school for competitions and practices. During the first week of school, practices were canceled, and players’ parents were requested to transport them because there weren’t enough buses.

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Poor weather might add to the frustration of having to wait about for a while. We don’t want our kids waiting outside in the rain, the great heat, or the heavy winds, or any other dangerous weather.

Avoiding a Crisis Caused by a Lack of School Bus Drivers

However, school districts often lack the financial resources to match the higher compensation offered by private sector employers. Some may have received stimulus money during the pandemic, but this is not a permanent fix. Innovative thinking is required in this situation. In some areas, districts are attempting to make all workers who possess a Class B license follow a set path.

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As a result of increased demand, the East Brunswick Public School District has begun the process of increasing its bus fleet and staff. Meanwhile, authorities are making the best of a bad situation. The district has transportation managers on duty for some bus routes. They’ve also brought extra help to field phone calls from worried parents whose children’s school buses have been delayed.

Our logistics team has been putting in extra time and effort every day and night to ensure the most streamlined operation possible throughout our path. When doing so would cause too much disruption, they have consolidated routes and reached out to contracted bus service companies that are ready to pick up chosen routes, even temporarily.

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However, not all parents are content. Why not pick a different bus company every day, or pick all the late buses from the same school, so that classes can wait until everyone arrives? This has added a great deal of unnecessary tension and worries to the already frantic start of the school year.

For those families that rely on the school bus, there is always the possibility that your kid(s) will be late for their ride at least once this school year. Carpooling with a neighbor or seeing if you can work from home that day are two options to consider in advance. Contact the school or district office if a late bus would create an undue hardship for your family and you don’t think you have another method to bring your children to school.

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